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Archive for September 16th, 2009

First Impression: OMFG

Thamel/Kathmandu, Nepal

Remember that movie, you know the one, where the guy is stuck in the airport and can not get out of “no man’s land” – between the country and the airplane.  I was that guy. I arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning and my back pack had not been checked through .  So  to retrieve my bag , I needed to go through immigration, get my bag, check my bag for the next leg and return through immigration.  /Easy. I existed no-mans land and readily found my bag.  Problem, baggage check-in  was closed and they guys with machine guns told me I could not stay in this area..  No problem, I go would upstairs; no you can not stay here either, but  you can go through immigration and  have your passport stamped for departure, and you can stay at the gate. Now those of you  who know something about international travel just figured out that I was about to screw up.  Back through immigration with my pack and my carry-on with a plan to check my bag in the morning.. I executed the plan and nearly qualified for “locked up abroad”.  “You have all ready left the Country and can not return and leave again”: “WHAT?“ Ok, no problem. I will check my pack on this side….not an option. I will check it at the gate….not an option because you have to go through security and they are never going to allow those hiking poles, Swiss Army Knife, large bottle of sun screen – besides your pack is to big.  Like I said, I was that guy. Fortunately Sara had given me her bracelet that she made of wooden prayer beads during her Buddhist  retreat. “For good Karma, and safe travels” was her parting comment. So I closed my eyes, ran each bead through my fingers slowly and said “I am leaving this up to you, as I am sure you have a plan but it seems like I am kinda screwed here; any help is  greatly appreciates”  As my flight approached departure time no solution was apparent , and  while everyone was very kind, no one had any real good ideas.  Inspiration: I cranked all of the straps down on my pack, and expelled all the air from the dry bags and I put more duct take over the tips of my hiking poles.  I then waited for the line to subside, walked up to the X-Ray machine like I owned her, ””Is this your pack Sir”, “Yes it is” as I took it off the ramp smartly and  carried my entire kit onto a completely full plane.  Oh yea, I now have some very sharp objects, and other contraband  on this flight, as I write this entry. I was feeling pretty smug with myself until I remembered that I turned this one over: “Hey, good plan, thanks for the help”,
At about 3am, before realizing  I was actually  in a jam, I found a small corner upstairs and wrapped  myself in a fetal position around my gear. Now, without my glassed I cannot see…. Literally, and it is one of my real fears -glasses separation.  But when I suddenly woke around 4am, I could tell they where  in uniform, four of them, had guns, on a mission, and they were heading straight for me.  I snapped to full attention, and kept my hands very visible.  “Passport and boarding pass, Cross reference his passport number against the boarding pass. No problem, sorry to have bothered you Sir”  :“Oh that is OK fellas , thanks for asking”.  I am just glad they had not embraced everything American as I had visions of Dick Head Chaney exposing the need and virtue of “enhanced techniques” Not sure who or what they were looking for but I was glad it was not me as these are not the donut eating rent a cops from Sacramento’s NON-international airport. Screw sleeping, just give me coffee.
So I have been up for something like 26 hours now (less the short -pre interrogation nap). I have a simple mission for today: Get 90 day Nepal visa,, get Nepalese Rubes (hope ATMs work better than in Korea) get a taxi to Thamel district of Katmandu, find a room, Sleep.
Remember that movie, you know the one, where the guy is stuck in the airport and can’t get out of “No man’s land” – between the country and the airplane, but not in either?   I was that guy. I arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning and my back pack had not been checked through .  So to retrieve my bag , I needed to go through immigration, get my bag, checked for the next leg and return through immigration.  Easy. I existed via immigration and readily found my bag.  Problem; baggage check-in  was closed and the guys with machine guns told me I could not stay in this area.  No problem, I go would upstairs; no you can not stay here either, but  you can go through immigration and  have your passport stamped for departure, and you can stay at the gate. Great.  Now those of you  who know something about international travel just figured out that I was about to screw up major.  Back through immigration with my pack and my carry-on with a plan to check my bag in the morning.  I tried to execute  the plan and nearly qualified for “locked up abroad”.  “You have all ready left the Country and cannot return and then leave again”.  This is a one way ticket:  Ok, no problem! I will check my pack on this side….not an option. I will check it at the gate….not an option because you have to go through security and they are never going to allow those hiking poles, Swiss Army Knife, large bottle of sun screen – besides your pack is too big.  Like I said, I was that guy. Fortunately Sara had given me her bracelet that she made of wooden prayer beads during her Buddhist  retreat. “For good Karma, and safe travels” was her parting comment. So I closed my eyes, ran each bead through my fingers slowly and said “I am leaving this up to you, as I am sure you have a plan,  but it seems like I am kinda screwed here; any help….greatly appreciated”  As my flight approached departure time no solution was apparent,  and  while everyone was very kind, no one had any real good ideas.  Inspiration: I cranked all of the straps down on my pack, and expelled all the air from the dry bags and I put more duct take over the tips of my hiking poles.  I then waited for the line to subside, walked up to the X-Ray machine like I owned her:  ”Is this your pack Sir”, “Yes it is” as I took it off the ramp smartly before they could say another word and carried my entire kit onto a full plane. I was feeling pretty smug with myself until I remembered that I turned this one over: “Hey, good plan, thanks for the help”.
At about 3am, before realizing  I was actually  in a jam, I thought foolishly that I may get some sleep. I found a small corner upstairs and wrapped  myself in a fetal position around my gear. Now, without my glasses I cannot see…. Literally, and it is one of my real fears – glasses separation.  But when I suddenly woke around 4am, I could tell they where  in uniform – four of them -had guns – on a mission, and they were heading straight for me.  I snapped to full attention, and kept my hands very visible.  “Passport and boarding pass, cross reference his passport number against the boarding pass. No problem, sorry to have bothered you Sir”. “Oh that is OK fellas , thanks for asking”.  I am just glad they had not embraced everything American as I had visions of Dick Head Chaney espousing the need and virtue of “enhanced techniques”.  Not sure who or what they were looking for but I was glad it was not me as these are not the donut eating rent a cops from Sacramento’s NON-international airport. Screw sleeping, just give me coffee.
So I have been up for something like 26 hours now (less the short -pre interrogation nap). I have a simple mission for today: Get 90 day Nepal visa, get Nepalese Rubes (hope ATMs work better than in Korea) get a taxi to Thamel district of Katmandu, find a room, Sleep.
OMFG: I have never, and I mean never seen anything this crazy.  That is all I can say for now as I am thinking the Nepal airport, the hucksters, the AMT experience, and nearly getting killed no less than 50 times on the taxi ride is maybe a result of sleep deprivation. Sent John a quick text with a lot of profanity asking what have I done; he simply wrote back “embrace the anarchy”. Do I have a choice? Or like we used to say on the PCT in half jest when we reached a tough spot: “We are going to die’.

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